Job seekers who put their searches on hold during December may miss out on valuable opportunities unique to this month. Get rid of the outdated notion that nothing worthy happens in the hiring world between Thanksgiving and New Year and take advantage of the following:
1. New openings
The end of the year is a prime time for retirements and internal promotions, which create vacancies that need to be filled. Likewise, some companies begin a new budget cycle in January – providing managers with money to hire staff. Smart businesses want to settle their staffing needs now so that they can proceed full steam ahead when the calendar turns.
2. Less competition
The applicant pool often shrinks during the month of December as job searchers become engrossed in holiday plans or assume hirers will be out of the office. Fewer résumés coming in means yours has a better chance of being noticed.
3. No-pressure networking
Tired of always feeling like you’re “bugging” people in your network? Christine Bolzan, founder of Graduate Career Coaching, notes that an easy and highly effective way to reach individuals and stay on their minds without asking for anything is to send holiday greetings.
“Reaching out to your contacts only when there is a current opening at a target company is too late. You've missed the boat, and in this tight job market, timing is everything. During the holiday season, there are so very many ways to make contacts and touch base with individuals who will subsequently have you in mind when hiring resumes in January. A nice card sent via U.S. Postal Service (NOT e-mail) with a handwritten, personalized message inside is the perfect ‘ping’ to those in your network,” Bolzan says.
4. Opportunities for new contacts
The holiday social scene provides plenty of chances to meet new people. Attend professional gatherings or your alma mater’s mixer, and be sure to bring plenty of business cards. Also, be open to the possibility that Uncle Fred or that nice lady from the neighborhood cookie exchange could be your foot in the door somewhere.
“A great many job seekers are reluctant to share with family and friends that they are in fact seeking employment, but this perceived stigma will only hamper job search success. By the end of the day, everyone at the Christmas table should be able to articulate what you are looking for and what you have to offer. Be sure to have intimate conversations to share specific details so that these close contacts know how to help you and what you can contribute,” Bolzan says.
In the spirit of the season, some employers may be willing to give you a bit more of their time. See if you can set something up at a place you’ve been eyeing.
“If contacts at your target companies are working during the week between Christmas and New Year's, they may be open to getting together for coffee or lunch,” Bolzan says. “This tends to be a less busy period for most businesses, and if you request such an appointment 3 to 4 weeks in advance, you will increase your chances of being able to have some face-to-face time.”
Bottom line: Let others fill their heads with visions of sugar plums; you’re too busy envisioning a great new job!